As the Bush administration gets tougher on illegal immigration and increases its spending on enforcement, some of the biggest beneficiaries may be the companies that have been building and running private prisons around the country, says the New York Times. By the fall of 2007, the administration expects that about 27,500 immigrants will be in detention each night, an increase of 6,700 over the current number in custody. At the average cost these days of $95 a night, that adds up to an estimated total annual cost of nearly $1 billion.
The Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group (formerly the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation) – the two biggest prison operators – now house a total of fewer than 20 percent of the immigrants in detention. But along with several smaller companies, they are jockeying for a bigger piece of the growing business. Corrections Corp. and Geo are already running 8 of the 16 federal detention centers. Wall Street has taken notice of the potential growth in the industry. The stock of Corrections Corp. has climbed to $53.77 from $42.50, an increase of about 27 percent, since February when President Bush proposed adding to spending on immigrant detention.